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Peter the Great

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Peter the Great
Peter I, or, Peter the Great was Tsar of the Russian Empire from 1682 until his death in 1725. During the first fourteen years of his reign, he joint-ruled with his half-brother. He is credited for culturally revolutionizing his kingdom, replacing an archaic system of government and culture into one that was forward-thinking, modern, and scientific.








Full Name Peter Alexeyevich I
Who Tsar of Russia
Birth Date June 9, 1672
Death Date February 8, 1725
Country Russia
Born Moscow, Russia
Died St. Petersburg, Russia
Cause of Death pneumonia, uremia & gangrene
Father Alexis of Russia
Mother Natalya Naryshkina
Spouse

Eudoxia Lopukhina

Catherine I of Russia

Children

Alexei Petrovich, Tsarevich of Russia

Alexander, Grand Duke

Anna Petrovna, Grand Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp

Elizabeth of Russia

Natalia Petrovna, Grand Duchess

Siblings

Sophia Alekseyevna of Russia

Feodor III of Russia

Ivan V of Russia


Connections

Peter was tutored by Nikita Zotov as a boy, and maintained a lifelong friendship with him. 

Patrick Gordon was one of Peter's three tutors during boyhood, and remained extremely high in favor with the tsar throughout his life. During absences from Russia, Peter left Gordon in command of the empire, and also gave him the title of full general and the task of organizing his army. When Gordon fell ill in 1699, Peter visited him often, and was with him when he died, even being the one to close his eyes after death.

Artamon Matveyev was an early supporter and benefactor of Peter's. After Peter's sickly elder brother Feodor inherited the throne in 1676, Matveyev was the one who actually ruled the kingdom. During this time, Matveyev saw for himself that Peter would make the more capable ruler. After Feodor died in 1682 without any children, there was a question of who should inherit the throne. Peter's elder half-brother, Ivan V, was officially next in line. However, backed by the powerful Matveyev and other noblemen, a council chose the 10 year old Peter as ruler, with his mother Natalya Naryshkina acting as regent.

After he was announced tsar in 1682, Peter's elder half-sister Sophia Alekseyevna led a rebellion against him, during which many of their family members were killed. Matveyev, Peter's powerful nobleman benefactor, was also murdered. After the eruption of violence, it was decided that Peter and his elder half-brother Ivan would rule as tsar jointly, with Ivan as the senior ruler. It was Sophia, however, who took control of the kingdom, and she ruled as an autocrat for seven years. She even went so far as to cut a hole in the back of the dual throne and sit hidden there while Peter held audiences, whispering to him what to say. In 1689, when Sophia's Crimean campaigns failed, Peter saw an opportune time to overthrow his domineering sister. He began gathering supporters of this thinking, but Sophia's court spies told her, and she plotted with the noblemen of the court to have him killed. However, the nobles instead warned him, and after he fled to a nearby monastery, he continued to gather followers. In 1690, Sophia was overthrown and banished to a convent, where she was forced to renounce her family name, title, and position in the royal family.

Peter married his first wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina, in 1689, at the age of 17. He was forced into the marriage by his mother, who believed that it would bring political gain, and that if Peter had a son, he would more easily be able to overthrow his half-siblings from his joint rule. However, Peter could not stand Eudoxia, or her conservative relatives. The couple had one son together, Alexei Petrovich, and two other sons, both of whom died in infancy. During his long absence from Russia, Peter enlisted his family to persuade Eudoxia to enter a monastery in 1696. She refused, and so was banished to a convent in Suzdal in 1698. She wrote many angry, bitter letters to Peter, but a few years later took a lover during her exile - until Peter had the man executed in the horrifically violent method of quartering. Around 1718, Eudoxia began to gather sympathy and admiration from the people of Russia, largely thanks to her loyal friends in high places. They increasingly voiced hopes and prophecies that she would soon reconcile with Peter and return to the throne. However, Peter swiftly quelled this sentiment when he had all of the bishops that supported her executed, and transferred her to a more tightly guarded convent in Ladoga, also having her dragged from her home and publically humiliated on false charges of adultery. For the rest of his life, Peter kept Eudoxia in imprisoned exile.

In 1691, Peter - at the time, 19 years old - met Anna Mons, and became enchanted by her. He quickly made her his royal mistress, to the outrage of his wife Eudoxia. Over the next decade, the two remained steadily close, and Peter gave her a total of 295 farms and one mansion as gifts. Their relationship lasted for twelve years, until 1703. When Peter divorced Eudoxia, she thought that she would be his choice of a wife, but a proposal never came. Angry and hoping to bring Peter back to her through jealousy, Anna began a flirtateous relationship with a Prussian ambassador. However, after the other man proposed, Peter, in a tirade, expelled his former mistress from her estate and threw her into prison, along with her family and thirty of her friends. Their relationship as lovers was over, but there is evidence that Peter still held much sorrow over losing Anna, and many historians consider her the love of his life. He graciously allowed Anna to marry the ambassador in 1711, and Catherine I often expressed jealousy over his continued obssession over Anna, even dying her hair black so as to resemble her.

In 1718, Peter's eldest son, Alexei Petrovich, was discovered plotting treason against his father and planning to overthrow him and take the throne. Peter ordered him tortured and questioned, under which he admitted to the charges. A court of noblemen tried and convicted him, and he was sentenced to death. Peter had to sign off on this order before it could be carried out, however, and he hesitated to give such an order. Alexei died shortly afterward in prison, from wounds sustained during torture.

While traveling through Europe seeking allies in a proposed war on the Ottoman Empire in 1697, Peter traveled incognito under a false name. His closest colleagues during this time were Franz Lefort and Fyodor Alexeyvich Golovin.

Peter secured an alliance with Frederick I of Prussia in 1697.

Peter met with William III of England in 1697, seeking to secure him as an ally in a proposed war on the Ottoman Empire. Though the diplomatic mission failed, William and Peter became friendly, and the English monarch invited Peter and his traveling embassy to visit England, which they did in 1698.

While visiting London in 1698, Peter met Gilbert Burnet and Edmond Halley.

Peter was painted by Godfrey Kneller in 1698. The painting was later presented as a gift to William III of England.

While staying in London in 1698, Peter stayed at Sayes Court, the illustrious house owned by John Evelyn. While there, he and his court destroyed much of the house and ruined the manicured grounds, much to Evelyn's fury.

While visiting Amsterdam in 1697, Peter met with Jacob de Wilde, a wealthy nobleman with a collection of objects and books in an amazing personal museum. He toured the collection with de Wilde and talked at length with him. He also had some of his men study the museum and take notes, desiring a similar such place to be later built in Russia. De Wilde and the tsar became friends, and de Wilde's daughter made a sketch of them sitting in his library speaking. When Peter visited de Wilde again in 1717, she presented it to him. When de Wilde died in 1721, Peter purchased a large portion of his collection.

While in Amsterdam in 1697, Peter gained the acquaintance of the city's mayor, Nicolaes Witsen, who granted him permission to study shipbuilding in the country. He also visited Frederik Ruysch - who taught him how to pull teeth and catch butterflies, Ludolf Bakhuizen, and James van der Heyden, who taught Peter about his recently invented fire hose.

While studying shipbuilding in the Netherlands in 1697, Peter studied and worked with Cornelius Cruys, who he also took on as a temporary advisor on maritime affairs.

While considering a war against Poland, Peter visited the Polish king Augustus II the Strong in 1701. The two men ended up getting along well, and talked for several days with much drinking. On the third day, they held a cannon-shooting competition, which was won by Augustus.

Peter was a very close friend of Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov.

While visiting his friend Menshikov in 1703, Peter met Catherin I, then known as Martha. He fell in love with her and soon afterward made her his mistress. They secretly married in 1707 and had a second, official wedding at St. Isaa's Cathedral in St. Petersburg in 1712.

Peter sent Ivan Nikitich Nikitin to study art in Italy in 1716, for a four year period. After his return, Peter employed him as a court painter, and proclaimed him a favorite. Nikitin was present at Peter's deathbed, and painted the scene later in the year, after the tsar's death.

Peter visited Herman Boerhaave while traveling to the Netherlands in 1717.

Peter met Theophan Prokopovich while visiting Kiev in 1709, when he saw him giving a sermon. He was so impressed by Prokopovich's eloquence, he took him as a confidant and advisor in his ideas of reforming the Russian Orthodox church. From then on, Peter would relay new religious changes and theological opinions to Prokopovich, who would then find a way to gracefully and convincingly deliver them to the people. Prokopovich was considered essential to this plan, which would most likely have failed without him. In return, Peter often gave the bishop promotions, placing him high in power. 


Places

Moscow, Russia - Born here, 1672.

Sergiyev Posad, Russia - Fled to and lived in a monastery here, 1689 - 1690.

Azov, Russia - Sieged a fortress here, 1695 and 1696.

Paris, France - Traveled here on a diplomatic mission, 1697.

Vienna, Austria - Traveled here on a diplomatic mission, 1697.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Traveled here on a diplomatic mission, 1697.

Zaandam, the Netherlands - Worked incognito here as a shipbuilder, 1697.

London, England, UK - Traveled here, 1698.

Taganrog, Russia - Founded first Russian naval base here, 1698.

Narva, Estonia - Was here right before a battle, 1700.

Birzai, Lithuania - Traveled here, 1701.

St. Petersburg, Russia - Founded this city, 1703. Died here, 1725.

Minsk, Belarus - Commanded a battle outside this city, 1708.

Mogilev, Belarus - Commanded a battle outside this city, 1708.

Kiev, Ukraine - Visited here, 1709.

Tula, Russia - Visited here, 1712.

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